Indianapolis Tech Census

The 2018 Indianapolis Tech Census Report explores the momentum, factors, growth and challenges facing the Indianapolis technology community.









the Report

Topics discussed in the report include new data and insights on topics such as:

  • Corporate performance and growth
  • Capital investment ecosystem
  • Tech workforce and talent
  • Social issues and tech
  • Strengths, challenges and opportunity

Growing Strong

The tech community in Indianapolis shows signs that speak to a coming of age. We've made the lists, we've seen some exists, momentum is building.

"Indiana features an inclusive, tight-knit tech community you won't find anywhere else. You'll find that Indiana has some of the top tech talent in the nation - everything from engineers and developers to marketers, recruiters, and finance. Tech companies in Indiana also have the opportunity to make a real impact in the local community and economy. We are proud of the progress we've made in becoming a national tech staple in the last decade and are all committed to its continued success."

The Powderkeg team collaborated with Raidious, an Indianapolis-based digital marketing agency, for the design and production of the report.

Community Discussion

What data or stat in the Indy Tech Census did you find most interesting? Did anything surprise you? What data would you like to see gathered in the next Indy Tech Census?

Please leave your thoughts in the comments section below.

39 thoughts on “Indianapolis Tech Census”

  • I want to thank everyone in the Indianapolis tech community for helping us create this comprehensive report. More than a dozen great organizations came together to conduct the Census and we had nearly 400 people complete the survey. There is so much to discuss but I’m particularly passionate about bringing more diversity and funding to the city. What stands out to you?

    • Matt, the stat that REALLY stuck out to me was that approximately 18% of our tech companies grew more than 200% in 2017. That’s amazing. That sure wasn’t the case 10 years ago!

    • Two things: the overall youth of our development talent, and the need to get a more diverse workforce involved. Less than 30% female representation in the survey, even less with diverse ethnic backgrounds.

      Time for the young white guys to get involved in bringing others into the space (me included).

    • Matt-
      Thanks for spearheading this effort…many of the takeaways (lack of capital, talent/workforce concerns, diversity) are recurring themes and known to the community. It would be great to get more granular detail on a few of these challenges and perhaps some of the comparative data from other cities will provide some benchmarking. What is the next step in terms of having some recommendations and more robust conclusions? How do we process this data and make ourselves better for further investment & growth?
      Great work from Powderkeg and Radious…some good food for thought!

  • The core values really resonate with me: Community, Collaboration, Hard Work. I’m loving those vibes. Curious about Humility though — on the topic of challenges, a little too much humility could be part of what’s holding Indy tech back.

    • Yes, the Indy tech values are strong. Humility has it’s pros and cons. It’s one of those traits that I highly admire in individuals. It may not help us get more press though. Indy’s tech community seems to align with walking the walk without a ton of talk. To the point where the world notices, like with ExactTarget’s acquisition. Luckily we have great marketing and PR companies in town, like Raidious, BlastMEDIA, StudioScience, Element 3, Site Strategics and others to help us humbly get the word out!

  • THIS:

    “Can our humanity and compassion for each other scale at a similar rate as technology,
    and what happens if it doesn’t?”

    Diversity and Equality / Quality Education. These social issues are top priorities, and there is a palpable link between them. What we as a community do with this information, and the other valuable insights found in this report, will determine how our industry matures. Let’s come of age compassionately.

    Knowledge is power. Thanks to Powderkeg for asking the right questions.

    • Jessica, thanks for catching that quote. It’s the most important question of our time I believe. Thanks for fighting the good fight with the tech community!

    • Yes! Compassion is absolutely how we’ll grow to the next level as a community. Thanks for everything you’re doing to make sure we keep having these conversations.

  • “The tech community in Indianapolis shows signs that speak to a coming of age. We’ve made the lists, we’ve seen some exists, momentum is building.”

    What a statement, It is an amazing time to be in Indianapolis and I can not wait to see what this community is capable of.

    The statistic that I lingered on the most was the ratio of female to male founders in this community. We all know the statistics — but seeing it in a graphic was more powerful, personally. Diversity has been a hot topic of late in Indy, and the census really puts a spotlight on the disparity between male and female founders. If we really want to have a “coming of age”, we need to do a better job at encouraging and finding talent that may not look like the norm.

    • Thanks Erika. Yes the ratio of female to male founders is a great stat for us to start chipping away at in next year’s census, and the year after that, etc… Great to have female leaders in the community like you and many others gaining valuable experience and launching companies. Look forward to watching the great things you for Indy over the coming decades Erika.

    • 100%… we need to continue to find ways to support great organizations like IWIT, Ladies in SaaS, and Startup Ladies AND keep making efforts to nurture and support the next wave of women leaders. Thanks for everything you do for women in tech in Indianapolis, Erika.

  • This is such an awesome resource to show not only how Indianapolis’ tech scene is growing, but in what direction(s) we need to guide that growth. Great to see so many respondents identify diversity and equality as a priorities. Inclusiveness has to be championed. The more it is, the clearer our focus becomes on using tech to truly serve.

    Also, we’re a B2B-heavy tech scene. It’s so easy for great companies here to fly under the radar because they don’t make much direct contact with consumers. Even with the local and national press some of Indy’s tech companies receive, there’s still so much more happening than many us are aware of. Resources like this census show us what we’re missing.

    • Inclusiveness and diversity stands out to me as a key strategic initiative, social good aside. We are creating global companies to serve global customers. How are we supposed to truly understand our customers, if we don’t have any of them on our teams?

  • I would like to see how technology and innovation can improve the educational experience for our students. Not just technology, but technology used to solve problems and think beyond the device.

  • Love the data!

    > This data from the census would indicate that more senior engineering talent will be
    available in the coming years as our young talent becomes more experienced.

    Do engineering leaders believe this? The weighting towards younger developers in Indy appears to match that same slant in the national numbers. That appears to be driven by developers changing careers as they age.

    My guess is that demand is going to continue to outstrip supply. Does anyone disagree?

    If senior developer compensation increases no faster than other tech roles over the next 5 years, then I’ll take that as evidence that I’m wrong.

    • This is interesting Wes. I love what organizations like, Employ Up are doing to re-educate people to work in tech and development. I’m with you that demand will outstrip supply for a while. I know some prominent people in tech are working on a program to train developers straight out of highschool. This could make an impact. In the census data for age of developers (at least for who took the survey), about 80% were 35 years of age or younger.

    • I hope we can start catching up to the demand. Programs like the ones Kevin mentioned, along with academies like ElevenFifty, Xtern, and Kenzie should help. And I see a real opportunity with software like Woven, Propel, and Mimir that can help take supplement or advance skills trained in college, acedmies, or previous employers; and ramp them up for the roles these fast-growing companies need to fill.

  • Great timing on presenting this information. This has provided such a great benchmark for where we are at and where we need to go. Now that we are about to launch our platform, I have some great considerations on what our company can do to help support the outlined initiatives. Thank you for doing this!

    • Thanks Josh. Looking forward to seeing how selfless.ly impacts social issues in Indy and Nationally and how the benchmark data shifts over the years.

  • This is very important research for the area. For many years I’ve been bragging about our tech sector in my travels. Now I don’t just have to tell them. I can show them. Good work team!

  • It’s great to see the venture eco-system assess itself. You can’t know how far you’ve come if you don’t know where you started. We appreciate Powderkeg’s efforts to monitor the size and health of this community.

    I knew that the # of women in tech startups was low, but I was surprised only 10% of founders are women. Clearly, we in education have our work cut out for us.

    The survey includes and large # of true startups. It’s exciting how many new ideas are being born in Indy.

    • If anyone’s up to this challenge Kim, it’s you! I had a nice conversation yesterday with a female entrepreneur who talked to me about the courage and strength it takes to be a female founder right now. It made me think about how important having the right mindset must be. That’s teachable.

  • Nice job Powderkeg team! Great work to help define, build and represent the Indianapolis tech community. Bring vision-driven and data-led, is always the best way to go, and this is very helpful. Really appreciate the time, work and quality that went into this. On behalf of the Indianapolis business community, thank you!

    • No problem Scott. We wanted to get this benchmark data out there. Next year we’ll take it to the next level. Thank you for everything you do for the Indy tech community.

  • I agree with you all. To me this is an economic and societal issue. When there is 4% unemployment you can assume (probably incorrectly) that it’s just “lazy people who don’t want to work”. If the reports I read are correct and perhaps 40% of our jobs eventually go away, it will be impossible to insist that those 40% are just lazy. The already dramatically increased inequality in wealth (driven by financialization) means we will have to find a better way with tech. As awkward as this sounds coming from a fiscal conservative, we have to look at UBI, robot taxes, or other means to address massive societal disruption as technology evolves. The value of technology to society is massive, and cannot just go to the 1%.

  • Great contribution to the Indy Tech community! This Census/Survey will be regarded as seminal work overtime as we continue to mature as a community. Many comments in and throughout the piece reference the continued need for capital. I look forward to seeing the Next Level Indiana Trust Fund make investments in deserving start-ups and scale-ups.

  • “What gets measured gets managed.”

    First off, thank you to Powderkeg and collaborators for taking charge creating a benchmark for Indy Tech to improve upon.

    I’m most interested in using this as a jumping off point for the conversation about the relationship between talent and international diversity. The census addresses gender, ethnic, and age diversity, but it seems like we limit ourselves to diversity within a national context despite the conversation’s increasing global relevance.

    I understand national politics plays a big role in how much Indianapolis can act globally, but we should still measure it. SaaS competes in a growing international market, and while only about 10% of responding companies reported the majority of their customers were located outside of the US (page 24), My guess is that number will grow as we further specialize in industries like B2B SaaS, especially B2B marketing SaaS. Does anyone think differently?

    Talent is increasingly a global market–how many people in the Indy Tech census immigrated to Indianapolis for a job? How many tech companies will sponsor employee visas? Not trying to start a political argument here, rather I’m trying to better understand how Indianapolis is engaged in the global talent market. These might be interesting questions to ask on the next Indy Tech census

  • Great information and interesting findings. I was surprised there wasn’t an emphasis on growing leaders and increasing technical experts’ leadership capability as businesses scale. Especially since 72% of founders sell their company and the majority of exits are expected in the next 7 years.

    And do employees feel they have the opportunity to learn and grow and can advance their career at their current company (one of the top employee needs for retention)?

    Looking forward to continuing the conversation about talent needs in the tech community.

  • No surprise that capital and talent are the the biggest areas of improvement identified for the community. Great to see what the aggregate perceptions of the community are. After spending several months visiting other tech communities all across the country, we still have a ways to go to reach the levels of Austin, Boulder, Atlanta, etc. but I think we’re as well positioned as any “3rd-tier” tech community.

    What’s fascinating about tech, and it’s mentioned in a couple different places in the Census, is that it’s percolating through every industry. If we want to keep up with the rate of change of the world, we have to be forward thinking about education and think holistically about helping individuals achieve learning throughout their life as technology is morphing the nature of workforce.

  • This report is such a great asset for the community. The report itself seems like a milestone for the tech scene and Indianapolis. Really appreciate the level of effort that went into pulling all of this together. Will be referencing back to this report for a long time.

    Also, liked Mendy’s comment about “take a stand.”

    Thanks again for making this happen!

Comments are closed.